Shigeo Kageyama is a middle school boy with incredible psychic abilities and mental trauma. Mob Psycho 100 is the story of Shigeo as he learns to control his abilities, and improve his mentality and his body while working part time as an exorcist for a fake psychic.
Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama is possibly the quietest main character I have ever reviewed. Mob is plagued by self-hatred for his powers and the problems that they can cause. In an effort to find a way to control them, he seeks out Reigen, who he thinks is a real psychic. But Mob is not a complex character. He dislikes his body, his powers, and his inability to “get a hint”. He likes his brother Ritsu, his family, the Body Improvement Club, and milk (like a sophisticated gentleman, so claims my editor). Case closed on Mob. It’s not hard to see the path of improvement for Mob and the show really makes no effort to be unpredictable long term, but Mob develops well. He reminds me of someone wearing a heart rate monitor after being scared. Their heart rate is rapid and all over the place, but over time, it begins to level out into a resting pace where it is most efficient. So perhaps Mob isn’t particularly interesting, but the subtle ways that the writers show a character, with so little dialog, growth is well done.
Ritsu is Mob’s younger brother. Born without powers, he resents Mob’s abilities and throws himself into literally everything else. Ristsu is smarter, stronger, more popular, and more handsome. While it does pain me to bash on Mob’s bowl cut. I want to call Ritsu the Robin to Mob’s Batman, but he really isn’t around (or relevant enough) to be Robin. Ritsu kind of had his own thing going on. He wanted to get psychic powers, so he sought out someone who could teach him. He had issues with his personal life, so he went out to solve it. I love characters with agency. These characters are so important to making the world feel alive and despite his utter lack of power and overall usefulness, Ritsu is a sleeper favorite for me.
Before I say anything about Dimple, I want to apologize to Randy and my Discord. They really liked Dimple and I did not. Dimple felt like mobile plot armor and played the “devil on the shoulder” role, despite obviously not being evil. Dimple felt like he implied everything he was not. How we met him was just outright bizarre and once he was “tamed,” he really served no purpose other than to get Mob out of certain situations and be a letter owl when people are in fights. I feel like he could have been removed and we would not have lost that much.
Reigen is the smoothest dude in the show. Never before have I seen someone with so much talent, go into a line of work that uses zero percent of it and still slides by successfully — you know, other than me, of course. Reigen used to be a water cooler salesman and once he filled his cup there, he joined the life of mystics and scam artists. Mob walks through his door one day and the rest is history. While Reigen is a liar, a fraud, and whatever else you want to call him, you would have a hard time telling him that. Reigen’s front is impervious. He’s about to get smashed by a spirit? Mob has his back. He gets embarrassed on TV? He talks his way out of it. This man could convince penguins to buy flavored ice from a polar bear if he had to and he is easily the funniest character in the show.
The Body Improvement Club honestly is just named wrong. I would vote for the name to be changed to the “Ultra Mega Chad Club.” These guys are so ripped out of their minds that their veins have muscles.They are easily the most positive force in the entire show and play so much more of a role that they should have. I loved how Mob did not fit into this club at all, but they cared so much for all the members that they looked right past that. It’s about improvement. It’s about the struggle. It’s about fighting on! Fight on! Fight on! Fight on!
The first three episodes really set the tone for the show. Mob’s emotions are flashed on the screen, expressed by a percentage until meltdown. Immediately you are interested. What is the meltdown? Why is it moving so fast? Does the percentage go down? When we finally see Mob meltdown, oh boy did he melt down. But ultimately, the cadence of meltdowns becomes a bit repetitive. The fights were super exciting, until they became repetitive. There are only so many times that you can become more powerful before you just know what to expect.
Did it have emotional strength at its core? Sure. But did it beat that dead horse until it stopped pumping out audience reaction? You betcha. Overall, I found myself looking for emotional development. You got a lot of that for the first three-fourths of the show, but just like his power, Mob reaches an emotional limit. Once you hit the ceiling, you don’t go any higher. Mob’s lack of expression makes it hard to feel the lows with him and his ceiling caps how high you feel. So while I liked the show and thought it did Mob’s development well, I found myself only just over the hump of enjoyment.
I thought about calling Mob a pacifist, but that really doesn’t describe him well because he is forced to fight people. What he really has is radical compassion. While so many of the psychics that we find ourselves coming across were con-artists, had god complexes, or are just plain violent, Mob has incredible amounts of compassion. What is interesting about this is that his compassion seems to grow during the duration of the show. I think that this is what really distinguished him from others and caused so many to flock to his side. Despite the pain that others caused him, he never held a grudge, he never killed (despite being forced into combat), and he was always ready to extend a hand to help someone. Perhaps this is just Mob. Maybe that isn’t as impressive to you as it was to me, but it makes me think about myself and how I live my faith, so I enjoy characters who can show this compassion when I wonder if I could myself.
So what do you do when you find your self image in the trash and you want to attract your crush? If you answered “run yourself into anemia,” you would be right! Nothing screams self-improvement like working your body to the limit! Okay, so maybe Mob doesn’t quite have a healthy handle on improving his body and the boys in the body improvement club don’t really enable him to do a suitable amount of effort for his frail little body. On the flipside, you would be hard pressed to find a more introspective character than Mob. This hyper-critical introspection is something I could relate to. I am someone who goes over almost everything I do and looks at it critically. I want to make sure that what I do is reflecting who I am and what I want to be. Just like Mob, I don’t always get there and that causes a decent amount of self-inflicted pain and disappointment. Sometimes you even get so low that you start an anime blog. But in the end, it doesn’t mean that we stop improving. At the end of the day, the whole show is about Mob’s improvement, and we should respect his commitment to constantly bettering himself..
Sometimes on our path to mold ourselves into the best version, we find ourselves in a different spot than we intended. Somewhere along the line, we lost the vision or we never really had one and were just feeling our way along. I know that the early pandemic was really this time for me. I was lonely,, working a job I didn’t like, and dissatisfied with who I was at the time. To make matters worse, I was let go of that job shortly after and had to move back in with my mom. And as much as I love my mom, we do not live together very peacefully. At that moment, I was miserable. But now I look back on those times as instrumental for who I am now. Sometimes you need to readjust your path and get back on the right track. Sometimes we scrap parts of our lives so that we can remold them and make them more beautiful. Reigan has this experience. He finds himself lost on the path that he chose, haunted by his ungratefulness and forced to change. These points in life are hard and it takes a mature person to realize you aren’t where you want to be AND take the steps to get back on the path. No memes on this one, just inspiration. You’ve got this, king.
Should you choose to watch this show, I hope that you look back at the end like I did and wonder, “How the heck did we get here from where we started.” Not only did the scale and tone of season one and season two feel wildly different, but so often it felt like the side plots that were used to develop Mob had little to no meaning down the road. Mob developed well and the value of the conversations were clear. What was unclear was the value of the events itself. We jumped from one issue to the next, defeating and collecting allies like we were speed running our way to the Elite Four in Pokemon. Yet at the end of the day, the value of so many of those characters was so low that it makes their importance in the story — and the time we spent collecting them — put into question. Season one feels like we sprint from one fire to another as Mob struggles to keep his mental together, and who can blame him? Season two brings a little more focus to the story, but sidetracks itself with an arc that feels like it could have been deleted all together by just not introducing more characters. Overall, the pacing felt like a trip to Wal-mart. Sure, you can get a lot and your money stretches, but the value is poor and you are left wondering if you could have gotten better value elsewhere.
Let’s get one thing straight; this animation is absolutely off the wall, in a good way. Lotad Gang member Sarah mentioned that the animation reminded her of the realistic Spongebob scenes at times and that was part of why she dropped it. Yet, Mob Psycho 100 easily has four or five styles. The primary style is simplistic, dark, and masculine. I know it might seem odd to call an animation style masculine, but it truly is the best fit. All of the girls look exactly like the guys and there is no hesitation for both the guys and girls to make some disgusting faces. There is only one girl in the show who looks “beautiful” and that is Mob’s crush, Tsubomi, who is the school idol. People with muscles are highlighted to an extreme and body physique is boring or gross outside people who are ripped. I had mixed feelings about the powers in this show, but I ultimately decided that while a little tacky, they fit the show to the tee. The animation for the powers reminded me of the fancy brushes that I used on my two-foot-by-two-foot computer running Kid Pix. I swear I used that same brush pattern to outline my own original characters and after much reflection, I decided that this random element only added to the experience. So while the style is all over the place, the most consistent part is the smoothness, or lack thereof. It would be easy to ignore the balancing act of smooth animation and quick frame switches for fun effects or emphasis. I do think that the second season lost some of the harsh lines and the frequency of the bizarre things that Mob Psycho 100 season one did that took away some of the charm, but not enough to downgrade it from being awesome.
It truly was a psychic eats psychic world before Mob had anything to say about it. Mob Psycho 100 is set in a faceless city that could be part of any anime. Where I think the show shines through the rusty world is in the characters’ interaction with it. I am not talking about how Mob seems to destroy every building around him — sometimes against his will — I am talking about the clever side characters. At one point, Reigan, Mob’s fake psychic boss, is invited onto the set of a TV studio for an exorcism. Reigan has to respond to the media in a press conference after that show and you get the sense that there are people around that have eyes on our characters. Not only are the clients observing what is going on, but their impact is being felt outside what we see. Mob himself builds quite the reputation literally everywhere but inside his own school. Side characters explore the world and bring relevance and intrigue to it. Ritsu is the best example of this. The people he meets and the connections he creates affect the story more so than Mob does at times. So while visually irrelevant, the world has life and we can feel that.
Parastye fans are going to shudder with how similar these sections will sound. I do not like themes being used to signal emotional responses. Mob’s theme was eerie and great the first three times I heard it. At the point that his theme, and others, were repeated enough that they were predictable, I became very disappointed. I have a better rationale this time though. Mob does not feel the same way when he “explodes” each time. Sometimes he reaches 100% emotion through rage, sometimes through sadness, and sometimes through “???”. If Mob is going through a range of emotions during important scenes, why are we signaling each of these situations the same way with the same music? Beyond Mob’s theme, I never really felt like we got a full score. While I didn’t prefer the openings, I thought they really fit the off-the-wall nature of the show. Yet, the rest of the music didn’t really push the mood of the show past what the overused theme did. I wanted them to really go all in on the oddity of the show and I never got the impression that they did.
Mob Psycho 100 is a bizarre battle between an emotionally damaged pacifist in middle school and psychics who insist they are entitled to the world. The wild animation style adds to the whacky storyline and all over the place characters to make a pretty solid anime.